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Bournemouth Sets Benchmark for Small Teams: Gary O’Neill Proves Dreaming Big Pays Off

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In 1983, when the author got his first job as a manager at Bournemouth, the mission was to keep the team out of Division Four. The team was at the bottom of the table, had only won two games all season, and everyone thought they needed a miracle. However, the team has since achieved many miracles. For almost 100 years, Bournemouth flitted around between the bottom two divisions. When the author got them into the Championship in 1989, they had never been that high. They were a southern version of Rochdale, Stockport, or Accrington. If someone had suggested that they would become a Premier League club and the benchmark for everyone outside of the big boys, the author would have sent the men in white coats round. However, that’s exactly what the Cherries have become. They have shown that not only is it okay to dream big, but you can also achieve it.

When Bournemouth got promoted last summer, most people thought they would go straight back down. A few dodgy results early on had them even more convinced. Scott Parker was sacked, Gary O’Neil got the job, and all you heard was, ‘When are they going to get a proper manager?’. Even just over a month ago, they were being written off, and plenty would have considered today’s game against West Ham to be a ‘loser goes down’ one. However, the author thinks they already have enough points to survive whatever the result.

The author loves how Gary has got them playing. Scoring two at Arsenal and three at Tottenham tells you all about that. They don’t sit back, let teams dominate and try to nick something. No one gets an easy ride against them; they play with width, have loads of pace and are good to watch. The stadium holds 11,400 fans, and they still don’t have a training ground as such. The author loves how they not only gave the job to a young English guy in the first place but stuck with him when it got a bit tricky. When Bill Foley took over, he could have gone the same way as a lot of owners and decided he wanted a big-name foreign manager, but not a bit of it.

The author thinks that Gary won’t be manager of the year, and Bournemouth won’t be challenging for Europe. However, if you want a perfect example for the rest of the divisions, there are none finer.

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